ShareThis Page

Former Greensburg doctor indicted in sex-for-drugs scheme

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Robert Franzino of Greensburg is led from the office of Magisterial District Judge James Albert after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on charges related to allegedly offering pills and cash to a 15-year-old girl.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Robert Franzino of Greensburg is led from the office of Magisterial District Judge James Albert after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on charges related to allegedly offering pills and cash to a 15-year-old girl.

A former Greensburg doctor who is accused in a sex-for-drugs scheme involving a 15-year-old girl was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Robert R. Franzino, 60, is accused of using messages sent via social media to offer the girl drugs and cash for sex. He has been in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail since March following his arrest by a Greensburg police officer and an agent with the state Attorney General's Office.

Franzino was indicted on a charge of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said.

Last week, county officials said the prosecution was being transferred to federal court.

According to the indictment, between Sept. 9 and March 13, Franzino used facilities and means of interstate and foreign commerce, specifically an Android cellphone, to try to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.

Federal law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $750,000 or both, if Franzino is convicted, Hickton said. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and Franzino's prior criminal history.

Franzino, a former emergency room physician, pleaded guilty in 2002 to insurance fraud and violating state drug laws after he was charged with prescribing painkillers to four women in the hopes of having sex with them when he worked as a physician at Westmoreland Excela Hospital in Greensburg in 1999, according to court records.

He was sentenced to 10 years of probation and prohibited from practicing medicine in Pennsylvania until December 2005. Records show the state board of medicine revoked his license in November 2005.

State records indicate that Franzino never attempted to reactivate his medical license. Since his license revocation, he has worked as a consultant in medical malpractice cases, authorities said.

Franzino's attorney, J. Allen Roth of Latrobe, has said his client is innocent of the recent charges and will fight the indictment.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Hickton said.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.